A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of dining and drinking with THE Cocktail Bandits at the newly opened 5 Church. Taneka Reaves & Johnny Caldwell are the reigning queens of the cocktail scene. These ladies are everywhere, every night, covering all the fun events you want to be at. But don’t mistake them to be just party girls, these ladies are trailblazers in a male dominated industry. Partnering up with major liquor companies and local bars and restaurants, the Bandits are digital influencers with a huge following that is growing by the second. Their inspiring story and strong friendship are the foundation of their success.
Majoring in Political Science at the College of Charleston, Taneka and Johnny quickly bonded over drinks and similar intetrests. 12 years later they are brand ambassadors to the leading liquor companies, slinging and sipping cocktails at the hottest parties, and hosting an event at the upcoming Charleston Wine and Food. Most importantly they are still best friends.
After months of saying how much we need to get together we finally made a plan to meet at 5 Church for happy hour. Ironically I’m not a big drinker but I’m having cocktails with the Cocktail Bandits, who can drink most men under the table. I couldn’t resist having a raspberry mojito, which reminded me of my balmy days in Spain last summer. If I sipped on Tequila all day like Taneka and Johnny maybe I could keep up, but I’ll just leave that to the experts.
What I am good at is eating a cheese plate like it’s my main course. Who needs the 5 food groups when you have honeycomb, olives, grilled baguette slices, and 4 different cheeses?
The beautifully renovated building that 5 Church took over on Market Street was originally a church that was built 100 years ago. The vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, and leather tufted banquettes make a grand environment, perfect for a date or a girls night out.
One of my favorite details are the hand-painted words from the book “The Art of War” on the restaurant’s ceiling.
The oh so fly Johnny Caldwell showing some tribal flair wearing IBU.
One of my favorite nibbles were the Crispy Beet Sliders. They were fried to perfection, topped with mixed greens and red onions all packed tightly on a bite size bun. Yes, I could eat a dozen of these no problem. Another highlight was the steamed mussels in a tomato sauce perfect for dipping.
The desserts were both tasty and beautiful to look at. My favorite was the Lemongrass Frozen Mousse with fruity pebble milk clusters, raspberry curd, meringue kisses, and finger lime caviar. It was a harmonious mix of sweet and tart, smooth and textured, and nothing I’ve ever tasted before. The Red Velvet cake was more on the chocolatey side, but with a gourmet twist. It was topped with cheesecake mousse, brown butter pistachios, and sprinkled with edible pansies.
View more for some Q&A with the captivating Cocktail Bandits.
Photography by Libby Williams
Black sheer bodysuit by Hanky Panky and Black bra by Marie Jo from Bits of Lace PH: 843-531-6625 // Miriella Tiered Midi Skirt by Alexis $290.40 from Beckett Boutique PH: 843-405-1105 // Crop Techno Cotton Jacket by Akris Punto $995 from Rapport PH: 843-727-0088 // Earrings $146 from Noddy PH: 843-872-6094 // 14k Peridot ring with diamonds $450 and 14k Pehnite and tsavorite ring $1,400 from Gold Creations PH: 843-577-4862 // Ema heels by Rachel Zoe $278 from Shoes on King PH: 843-718-2190
It’s no mystery that your skin changes with age and exposure to the sun and I have personally felt the affects of all of this. Blessed with pretty decent skin from my Filipino mother and Italian father I’m still not safe from aging and the elements. Being proactive with a skincare regimen, protecting myself from the sun’s harmful rays, and drinking lots of water is how I’m taking on this challenge. Thankfully Germain Dermatology is helping me with that new skincare routine.
Starting with the Skin Tone Enhancement Lotion. This bottle contains botanical ingredients such as Kojic acid, Arbutin, Bearberry and contains green tea and other soothing antioxidants. One of the main ingredients is glyceryl stearate which acts as a lubricant on the skin’s surface, and gives the skin a soft and smooth appearance. It also slows the loss of water from the skin by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface. The Advanced Vitamin C Brightening Serum is basically vitamin C in a bottle and helps to brighten and even out skin tone. Using some kind of under eye moisturizer goes without saying these days. The Hydrating Eye Serum with super hydration benefits of Hyaluronic Acid to soothe, smooth, and plump the skin in that much needed area.
The little blue bottle of hydration for your skin is the Hydra Boost Serum. The serum is packed with ingredients that reduce the signs of aging while giving you brighter, firmer and rejuvenated skin. And don’t worry, no artificial dyes were used to make this beautiful hue of blue. The Ultra Lite Moisture Dew Cream is exactly how it sounds, it’s light on the face while moisturizing the skin with oil-free ingredients and plant extracts such as aloe vera and squalane emollient.
Last but not least is the Super Sheer Physical Sunscreen SPF 50+ with both UVA and UVB protection. The suns rays are damaging and protecting your skin everyday is so vital. This sunscreen is light and smooth without the cakey layered feeling that you get with your average sunscreen, so it’s perfect to wear under your makeup.
Photography by Clifford Pate
Valentine’s gift ideas from local shops in Charleston.
1st Row: Voluspa candle in Aurantia and blackberry $35 from Stella Nova Charleston PH: 843-884-3838 // Julie Vos Mosaic necklace $179 from Shirtini PH: 843-259-5243 // “Always and Forever” art print by Rifle Paper Co. $24 from Dandy Boutique PH: 843-475-3927
2nd Row: Minimalist ring holder in navy $18 from Open Door Shop PH: 843-872-6469 // Lace bra $154 and lace thong $82 by Marie Jo from Bits of Lace PH: 843-531-6625 // Gin Fizz by Lubin perfume $160 from Lily PH: 843-577-7633
3rd Row: Lindsay Cowles bowtie and cummerbund set $270 from Noddy PH: 843-872-6094 // Rose Gold heart earrings $45 from Gold Creations PH: 843-577-4862 // What I Love About Us book $12 from Lulu Burgess PH: 843-405-1221
Dress by Akris Punto $1,190, Bag by Salvatore Ferragamo $1,290, Gold panther necklace $425 from Rapport PH: 843-727-0088 // Shoes by Jeffrey Campbell $145 from Shoes on King PH: 843-718-2190 // Sunglasses $595 from Friedrich’s Optik Charleston // 14k amethyst diamond ring $1,950 from Gold Creations PH: 843-577-4862 // Smith & Cult nail polish in Dirty Baby $18 from Stella Nova Charleston // Laqa & Co. Cheeky Lip in Mixtape $20 from Birchbox
Photography by Libby Williams
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of dining at Lee Lee’s Hot Kitchen, one of the few authentic sit down Chinese restaurants in downtown Charleston. Missing my weekend excursions to Chinatown when I lived in New York I was excited to try Lee Lee’s when it opened up two years ago. Nestled in a residential neighborhood, you know your in for a real treat when you enter the grand red door. The bright red walls covered in huge vintage posters makes the environment lively and inviting whether your sharing a table with a big group or dining alone at the bar.
The proprietors Lily Lei and Karalee Nielsen Fallert are longtime restaurant veterans and friends who wanted to bring something that was missing in downtown dining here in Charleston. The menu is based on Lily Lei’s family recipes which includes seasonal ingredients from Executive Chef Jeff Cali.
I’m not a huge drinker but I had to try the Hibiscus Mimosa which was the perfect mix of citrus and bubbly.
For starters I tried the Scallion Pancakes and the Chicken Lettuce Wraps. The Scallion pancakes were fried to golden perfection and I stuffed my yummy Lettuce Wraps with the minced chicken and vegetable filling. I had to try the Singapore Rice Noodles and replaced the pork and shrimp with tofu which was the perfect substitute. What I love is that the portions are generous, so it’s perfect if you want to share with friends.
The Chinese New Year is right around the corner on February 8th, and Lee Lee’s is throwing their annual celebration. I heard they’ll be serving a special menu combined with their signature dishes, and a dancing lion will be there to help ring in the new year.
Red lace dress by Adelyn Rae $118 from 7 Gypsy PH: 843-388-2464 // Buddha lapis earrings $275, Vermeil Deco green agate ring by Freida Rothman $115, Vermeil multi-plated stack ring by Freida Rothman $215, Lewitt white sapphire ring $85, compass rose white topaz bracelet $350, teal faceted pyramid cuff by Alexis Bittar $115 from Croghan’s Jewel Box PH: 843-723-3594 // Katie envelope clutch in black python by Taxidermy $995 from Noddy PH: 843-872-6094 // Anya pump by Corso Cormo $148.95 from Nordstrom
Viktoria + Woods sleeveless trench $380, Rebecca Minkoff suede “Saturn” dress $694, Klint ring $95, Aloba ring $95, and Apollo Crystal Crescent Ring $95 from Beckett Boutique PH: 843-405-1105 // Suede Patchwork booties by Derek Lam $395 from Shoes on King PH: 843-718-2190 // Katie rose gold python envelope clutch by Taxidermy $995 // Sunglasses from Cynthia Rowley $129 // Aymara cuff $220 and Octo Moon studs $77 by Hyla Dewitt from Open Door Shop // Laqa & Co. Fat Lip Pencil in Shambolic $42 from Birchbox // Nailpolish in Tenderoni by Smith & Cult from Stella Nova Charleston
Photography by Clifford Pate
I’m so proud to represent Charleston today for the #LTKtakeovertuesday on the Like To Know It Instagram. It’s a shopping app that shows you where to buy my looks on my Instagram feed. Every Tuesday Like To Know It collaborates with local bloggers in their city to feature where they like to shop, eat, and tour around. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite places along with fellow bloggers Chassity of Look Linger Love and Dannon of Like the Yogurt so tune into @LiketoKnow.it today!
I love playing tourist in my own town and The French Quarter is quintessential Charleston. In the center of it all is The Dock Street Theatre, which is the oldest theatre in America proving that the arts have been deep rooted in Charleston from an early start. Almost every building is dotted with flower boxes in the window and each building is painted a different color giving the neighborhood an extra dose of charm and romance.
It’s too hard to narrow down my favorite places to shop because Charleston is bountiful when it comes to local boutiques and designers. Today I’m featuring a python Taxidermy clutch which is designed by local Amy Wachter Driggers. Her lust-worthy bags have taken the city by storm and she has quickly developed a cult following. The cuff and necklace are by Hyla Dewitt a former Charleston dweller, and are carried at the new lifestyle boutique Open Door Shop. This new store proves that some of the best shopping can be found off the beaten track.
Bonded Racer Shell top $235 and Bonded Leggings from Cynthia Rowley // Audrey Sandal by Sam Edelman $100 from Shoes on King // Catalina Pendant $185 and Georgiana Lapis Cuff $165 by Hyla Dewitt from Open Door Shop // Klint ring $95, Aloba ring $95, and Apollo Crystal Crescent Ring $95 from Beckett Boutique // Custom wedding bands by Ash Hoffman // Harper Clutch in hot pink python $795 by Taxidermy // Laqa & Co. Fat Lip Pencil in Palate Cleanser $24 from Birchbox // Nailpolish in Tenderoni by Smith & Cult from Stella Nova Charleston
Photography by Clifford Pate
Black lace dress by Charlie Jade $210 from 7 Gypsy PH: 843-388-2464 // Buddha lapis earrings $275, encrusted mini cuff $115, compass rose white topaz bracelet $350, vermeil stackable bands $245, and vermeil deco garnet agate ring by Freida Rothman $115 from Croghan’s Jewel Box PH: 843-723-3594 // Rhinestone leaf necklace $74 and brass plate necklace $102 by Circa 1910 // Carroll Pump in suede by Corso Como $137.95 from Nordstrom // Laqa & Co. Cheeky Lip in Mixtape $22 and LAQA & Co. Nail Polish in Plonk $13 from Birchbox
Knit top by Mink Pink $70, leggings by Ci Sono $36, and faux suede boots by Chinese Laundry $77 from House of Sage PH: 843-573-7256 // Popcorn cardi by Karlie $134 from Simply J Boutique PH: 843-641-0224 // KONYAK TRIBE GLASS BEAD NECKLACE $102 from IBU PH: 843-327-8304 // Serra signet ring with sapphires by Elizabeth & James $110 from Croghan’s Jewel Box PH: 843-723-3594 // Cuff by Charles Albert $325 and hide hair on leather clutch by VAHA $195 Noddy PH: 843-872-6094 // / Laqa & Co. Fat Lip Pencil in Palate Cleanser $24 and LAQA & Co. Nail Polish in Plonk $13 from Birchbox
Brunch is probably one of my favorite meals to dine out, and I’m sure my husband and kids can vouch for that too. Last Sunday I had the pleasure of experiencing the brunch at Indaco on Upper King. Offering both breakfast and lunch dishes it was so hard to decide, so we pretty much ordered half of the menu and ravished everything in site.
We started out with my 2 favorite dishes – the Milk and Honey and Patatas Bravas. The Milk and Honey which consists of ricotta, granola, pears, and honey was out of this world! The Patatas Bravas was exactly how I remembered them it Spain, but with a twist. The fried egg on top just oozed decadence. For people who like to experience both sweet and savory dishes for brunch, this was the perfect combination.
If you love Indaco’s mouthwatering pizzas like I do, then your in for a treat with The Breakfast Pie. It’s pretty much the Margherita but with pancetta and an egg on top. It was baked HEAVEN!
We had to sample the Nutella Pizza with bananas, pecans and powdered sugar sprinkled on top. It was a hit with the kids and adults.
I’m not a big meat eater but my husband Gustavo had to try the Chorizo and the Eggs Al Forno, which he loved. When you top anything with an egg, it takes it to the next level.
Our experience was 5 stars – from the service, to the presentation, to the explosions of tastes. If your looking to have brunch downtown that isn’t your usual Lowcountry fare, Indaco is the spot. Experimenting with ingredients is what they do best and it shows. Another added plus is that it’s kid friendly, which is always a deal breaker for me. I can’t wait to go back again to sample more dishes, but knowing me I’ll probably order the same thing.
Blouse by Sugarhill Boutique from Dandy Boutique PH: 843-475-3927 // Vest coat by RD Style $99 from 7 Gypsy PH: 843-388-2464 // Overalls similar to these at Asos $77 // “Dynamite” champagne leather metallic low bootie by Corso Como $82.48 from Nordstrom // All jewelry by Ash Hoffman // “Jinx” Sunglasses by Quay $50 from Revolve Clothing // LAQA & Co. Nail Polish in Plonk $13 from Birchbox
Photography by Libby Williams
7 Gypsy in Mt. Pleasant is boho heaven – they stock up on long flowy dresses, fringy details, and rock star accessories that Stevie Nicks would approve of. Gypsy queen, Sarah Berrard opened the fairly new Mt. Pleasant shop last spring and loves sharing her vintage meets rockerchic aesthetic with Charleston locals. With big plans for her business Sarah recently moved next door to expand her store, giving her clients more space to let their gypsy spirit run wild. This recent mini look book is just a taste of all the goodies 7 Gypsy has in store.
Dress by Miss June Paris $172, Vest by Miss June Paris $184, Booties by Bedstu $195, Necklace by Milo & Fin $79, Beaded Bronze Bracelet by Gemelli $42, Black/ Brown Leather Bracelet by Streets Ahead $38, Blue & Rust Bracelet by Gemelli $54
Slip Dress by Aratta $79, Button Down Dress by Aratta $138, Boots by Bedstu $230, Necklace by Heather Kahn $138, Bronze Bracelet with Large Stone by Heather Kahn $79, Red Leather Bracelet by Streets Ahead $28, Beaded Bracelet Set by Gemelli $84
Dress by Melody $59, Jacket by En Creme $72, Booties by Bedstu $235, Choker by Heather Kahn $77, Necklace by Heather Kahn $52, Black/Brown Leather Bracelet by Streets Ahead $38
Sweater dress by Some Days Lovin’ $88 and faux suede boots by Chinese Laundry $77 from House of Sage PH: 843-573-7256 // Wooly moto jacket by Greylin $158 from Simply J Boutique PH: 843-641-0224 // Necklace by Empire State Finery $325 and Ryan tote in natural lizard by Taxidermy $1,395 from Noddy PH: 843-872-6094 // Natalie sterling silver stud earrings $85, gold and diamond cuff $1,650, lapis ring $595, and gold and turquoise ring $1,295 by Ash Hoffman // LAQA & Co. Fat Lip Pencil Four-Up in Shambolic $36, LAQA & Co. Nail Polish in Plonk $13 from Birchbox
What happens when you put a group of women together who like to eat, drink, dress up, and dance? Other than a really good time, this is everyday life for The Bad Bitches. What began as an all female pop up dinner to raise money for scholarships in the F&B industry, has now become a movement. The decade inspired dinners started last spring and quickly caught a cult following. Whatever the Bad Bitches touch turns into gold and apparently cash. They raised over $30,000 in a few short months for their female scholarship fund which gave women the opportunity to further their knowledge in their field.
Sarah Adams, one of the co-founders, is a visionary and a natural at orchestrating a diverse group of creatives to make something meaningful. Her sidekick Nikki Anhalt, contributes to each event and project effortlessly with her whit, charm, humor, and cheeky cocktail mixing skills. Their newly launched site is bold and sassy just like they are and the intro statement pretty sums them up –
“Julia Child meets Lil’ Kim. Martha Stewart meets Beyoncé. Salt n’ Peppa meets actual Salt & Pepper. Started from the bottom now we here, bringing up our crew. Stop, collaborate, and listen.”
I had the the opportunity to work with these incredible ladies on a Bad Bitches Body Positive Campaign. All of the women work in F&B and revealed not just their skin, but their story about weight, guilty food and alcohol pleasures, and how working in the industry helped shape their confidence.
View More to learn more about Sarah, Nikki and The Bad Bitches.
Fuzzy sweater by Yumi London $82 and Striped Skirt by Hutch $310 from Warren on King // Goldbug collar necklace with pearls $250 from Croghan’s Jewel Box PH: 843-723-3594 // Gold bangle $48 from Ro Sham Beaux // Present moons ring $95 by Elizabeth and James from Beckett Boutique //Sunglasses $99 by See Eyewear // Pink suede heels by Sam Edelman $110 from Shoes on King PH: 843-718-2190 // Phone Clutch by Nila Anthony $77
I’m kicking off of 2016 with one of my favorite shoots and collaborations from 2015 with Miele Events. What I love most about my job is being able to create beautiful images with an amazing team of people. This shoot was extra special because Lori DeNicola and Toni Reale of Miele Events already had a master plan of creating a dress made entirely out of plants. The upper portion of the dress was made out of banana leaves and the bottom was made out of Iris flowers. My other favorite part of the shoot? Getting to pose next to the sweet vintage 1957 Chevy by Lowcountry Valet + Shuttle.
When Lori, who also happens to be my yoga teacher, asked me to wear the dress I asked her – “Don’t you want to use a real model?” Now, I’m so glad I yes to the dress, because it was such an honor to wear!!!
With so many event planning companies in Charleston, what sets Miele Events apart? Lori and Toni produce stunning events and floral arrangements with an eco-conscious mind by using sustainable materials and limiting their waste. I’m so happy I had the opportunity to collaborate with them and bring in my glam squad – Lauren Sykes Photography, Mac Does Hair who also did an amazing makeup job, and my trusty assistant Quinton Stewart.
A special thanks to Shoes on King for the Kate Spade heels and clutch, Bridals by Jodi for the bird cage veil, and North Charleston Waterfront Park for letting us shoot in front of one of their historical houses.
2015 has been a year filled with new opportunities, making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and of course precious moments with my family. Charleston Shop Curator has become more than just a job for me, it’s inspired me in so many ways. I love being a part of a creative community in Charleston and helping local businesses is what I love to do. I wake up everyday excited to see what the day brings. Whether it’s having meetings, visiting stores and designers to see what new stuff they have, being on set making magic with amazing crews, or being at my computer and phone creating content, I love the process of everything! People always say – how do you do it, how do you find the time? When you love what you do as much as I do you make the time and you squeeze every second of the day and turn it into something that your proud of.
The motivation is fueled by encouraging words by my family, friends, colleagues, and people on the street that I meet that tell me “Hey! Your Charleston Shop Curator, I love following you on Instagram!” I would not be able to do all of this if it wasn’t for my husband Gustavo Serrano, who is my rock and support. He’s my Mr. Mom when I have my late night shoots and my after work events. He’s always there with loving arms and gives me great advice when I’m too tired to think straight. Yes, I owe a lot to this guy and I’ll never take it for granted.
I hope everyone has a Very Merry Christmas with their loved ones and a safe and Happy New Year. Life is precious and sometimes short, live in the moment and hold on tight to the people you love. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2016 brings, I know it’s going to be a big one! XOXO
Feather top by Elizabeth and James $385 from Beckett Boutique PH: 843-405-1105 // Sequin Leggings by May and July $52 from Dandy Boutique PH: 843-475-3927 // Goldbug Love Train necklace $195 and Goldbug cuff bracelet $250 from Croghan’s Jewel Box PH: 843-723-3594 // Moonstone bar earrings $31.50 from Ro Sham Beaux // Custom diamond and amethyst rings by Ash Hoffman // Leo Clutch by Rebecca Minkoff $95 and Heels by Vince $375 from Shoes on King PH: 843-718-2190
Black marabou chubbie jacket $68 from The Trunk Show PH: 843-722-0442 // Dress by Amanda Uprichard // Rhinestone Earrings $32 and Rhinestone Cuff from Lulu Burgess PH: 843-405-1221 // Clutch by Santi $205 from Berlins // Custom diamond and amethyst rings by Ash Hoffman // Jeffrey Campbell boots $285 from Shoes on King PH: 843-718-2190 // Sunglasses $99 by See Eyewear